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Home > Archives > Cryptozoology > The Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil
by Davy Russell
POSTED: 16 January 99

Deep in the forest of the Pine Barrens in New Jersey is an infamous and fearsome creature. It is a monster, like the ones that inhabit the nighttime horrors of sleeping children, but this one terrorizes people in real life.

The Jersey Devil is commonly described as being about four feet tall, with a large, hideous head shaped like a horse. It has yellow teeth, two horns protruding from its forehead, and leathery wings spanning two feet which enables the monster to fly. It is nocturnal and has a yellow glow. Its mournful cry is sometimes heard.

The legend of the Jersey Devil began in 1735 and was said to be the accursed child of a woman known as Mother Leeds. She was in labor with her thirteenth child and was in agonizing pain. She cursed the child and wished it out of her body. The child was born as she said this. The midwife who was assisting with the birth allegedly died from shock after seeing the "child". The father, hearing the midwife's scream, burst into the room, musket in hand, but he too fled the house. The Devil then viscously ate the other twelve children but spared his mother's life. It fled up the chimney to spend the rest of its days as a monster.

The Jersey Devil (or Leed's Devil) was known for its so-called "chimney raids" where it would enter a house through the chimney terrorizing the inhabitants. It would allegedly tear up furniture, chase people and pets, and kidnap children by dragging them up the chimney. Its less violent activities included tangling clothes lines, rustling bushes, hovering over lone travelers, and casting strange shadows.

In the 1830s and 1840's, the Jersey Devil was reported in Virginia. Among it's victims were mutilated livestock, dogs, geese, cats, and ducks. It allegedly attempted to grab children as well. The Devil reemerged in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey in 1909. During the week from January 16 to the 23rd, it was blamed responsible for mutilating livestock and pets and leaving hoof-like prints in, on and around houses. Over one thousand people reported encounters with the creature during that week.

The Jersey Devil has continued to frighten people who wander too far into the woods and torment hikers who camp within the Pine Barrens to this day. Its most recent citing was reported in December 1993 by John Irwin. He was driving along Mullica River in southern New Jersey when he saw a six-foot tall bipedal creature with horns and black, matted fur. Irwin watched the creature for a few minutes until it disappeared into the woods.

What Could The Jersey Devil Be?

The legend of the Jersey Devil seems to be just that, a legend. It is interesting to note, however, that certain aspects of the reports indicate that the monster shares some similarities to other famous cryptozoological entities in other parts of the world. The Latin-American Chupacabra is a similar, 3-4 foot tall, bipedal creature known to mutilate livestock and fly at night. Without clear photographs or actual Jersey Devil specimens, this cryptozoological phenomena remains as baffling as any other.

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